Is Lavender Safe For Dogs? Not Really, According to a Veterinary Toxicologist
Many humans appreciate lavender for its soothing effects and aesthetically pleasing purple buds. When your pup is feeling stressed, you may wonder: is lavender safe for dogs? While you might be eager to test out the calming plant on your pooch, both the lavender plant and essential oil can cause skin irritation and gastrointestinal upset in dogs.
We asked Renee Schmid, DVM, DABVT, DABT, veterinary toxicologist and manager of veterinary medicine and professional services at Pet Poison Helpline, about the toxicity of lavender for dogs and how to keep your dog protected from any potential health issues if you want to keep or diffuse the plant in your home.
Is Lavender Safe for Dogs?
Lavender can cause skin issues if applied topically and stomach problems if consumed. Read on to learn more about lavender essential oil, lavender plant, and lavender sleep spray—and whether or not they're safe to have in your home.
Lavender Essential Oil
The toxicity of lavender essential oil for dogs often comes down to its concentration. If dogs happen to get into lavender essential oil, especially oil that hasn't been diluted, it can cause mouth and skin irritation along with stomach upset if ingested. Schmid says these issues will oftentimes resolve on their own but may require medical treatment if persistent.
"Technically, is lavender toxic? Yes, because it creates a negative clinical sign," Schmid tells Daily Paws. "However, we don't expect to see organ damage or really anything beyond either skin irritation or stomach upset."
Applying lavender oil directly on your dog in an undiluted form is not recommended because of the potential for irritation. If you have a dog shampoo with lavender oil in it, the oil is present in a very diluted form, so your dog shouldn't experience those adverse effects. However, each dog is different and they can have skin allergies, so monitor your dog's reaction to any new products you use.
Diffusing lavender oil is considered to be safer because diffusing involves mixing the oil with water, creating a diluted form that evaporates into the air. However, dogs' noses are much more powerful than ours, so the smell of the oil could be too intense for them. Always monitor your dog for signs of discomfort when diffusing oils. If your dog is avoiding the room with the diffuser, it may mean the scent bothers your dog.
When it comes to lavender plants, Schmid says if ingested, it's likely to cause stomach upset. If your pup is prone to plant chewing, it might be time to reconsider having lavender in your home.
"If your pets are chewing on plants, even if they only cause mild stomach upset, it might be worth not having that particular plant in the house or having it up and out of reach of that animal just so they don't continually have stomach upset and develop any health issues from that," Schmid says.
Just like the fresh plant, dried lavender can also cause stomach issues if ingested, so it's best to keep it out of canine-reach when putting it on display.
Lavender Sleep Spray
If your nightly routine involves misting some lavender sleep or pillow spray before catching some Z's, a few spritzes probably won't hurt as long as the lavender in the spray is diluted and your dog doesn't lick your bedding or roll around in it before drifting off to sleep. However, if your dog manages to get into the spray while it's sitting on your nightstand, this ingestion could lead to stomach issues.
"If it's a product that is diluted lavender oil, that usually is just going to be more of that stomach upset if they ingest it," Schmid says.
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Signs of Lavender Poisoning
Schmid says the ingestion of lavender typically leads to stomach upset, including:
- Loss of appetite
What To Do If Your Dog Consumes Lavender
If your dog happens to consume lavender—the plant or the oil—it's always best to check with your vet regarding the next steps. Monitor your dog for any symptoms of lavender poisoning and bring them to a vet as soon as possible if symptoms become severe. The Pet Poison Helpline or Animal Poison Control can also assist with the next steps if you see or suspect your pet consumed a large amount of lavender or other toxins.
How to Keep Your Dog Safe Around Essential Oils
Schmid says the best thing is to simply keep essential oils up and out of reach, preferably behind a cabinet door or in a secure drawer. Same thing goes for diffusers—keep them out of reach so your dog can get into the oils. If you want to diffuse some lavender oil, try to keep your dog out of the room.
"Always remember that the dose makes the poison," Schmid says. A tiny drop of oil accidentally ingested probably won't cause your dog harm, but it's impossible to know how each individual dog will react, so always be vigilant, monitor your dog, and call your vet if you suspect something is off.